AIs are increasingly common in our lives, and there are more companies boasting of bigger plans for these entities almost every day. You might find yourself using smart devices and AI to take control of many of your day to day routine and automatic tasks, acting cooperatively or autonomously.
Many HEXUS readers have sometimes, in the forums and social media, jokingly raised questions about the 'rise of the machines'. However, it isn't some future neural-quantum processor or Boston Dynamics robot behind the latest reports of the potential dangers of AIs, it is the almost ubiquitous contemporary AI known as the Google Assistant.
"OK Google, activate gun"
Artist Alexander Reben recently released a video of his latest piece of work, dubbed 'Google Shoots'. It is just a sub-30 second clip but it is rather thought provoking. In the scene there is a loaded pistol with a solenoid switch ready to squeeze its trigger. Near the business end of the barrel is an apple, backed up with a few telephone directories to stop the bullet that will inevitably, easily pierce the fruit. Next to the mounted gun is a Google Home speaker awaiting its master's command.
The command "OK Google, activate gun" is spoken without emotion and then you hear the solenoid which will squeeze the trigger power up, followed almost immediately by the shot. As the apple rolls across the table you continue to hear the solenoid buzz - a sound that reminds me of US prison electrocution execution movie scenes.
An Engadget report takes what you see in the video a step further. The writer considers a future in which the digital assistant has learned from its owner's executions of other humans and, thanks to machine learning, no longer needs to be commanded to carry out such tasks.
The artwork's creator says that he could have chosen any other digital assistant in this video, such as Amazon Alexa or Microsoft Cortana, and could have chosen them to trigger a massage chair or ice cream maker. However the use of the gun, particularly, highlights "the unintended consequences of technology and the futility of considering every use case".